Objectives & Pricing
Club membership can follow several models, depending on your goals. Before establishing a paid or unpaid membership program, consider your objectives and develop a strategy that works best for your club. Clubs are encouraged to offer membership to all alumni (click here for a list of Wharton designates as alumni). Membership eligibility should be clearly outlined in your bylaws.
- Provides a clear picture of who is most interested in engaging
- Especially useful for affinity groups that rely on alumni to opt in to communications
- Supports club programming by generating revenue
- Fosters a sense of “buy-in” for alumni to engage with the club
Regardless of whether a paid or unpaid model works best for your club, be prepared to develop a value proposition for alumni. For a membership model to be successful, the club must have a plan to provide clear benefits to these highly engaged members of their community.
This is all about special access. Often, the most meaningful experiences happen in smaller group settings. If you are already hosting regular speaker events, consider adding a members-only reception. Find ways to connect members in more meaningful, customized ways like a mentorship program. Show that becoming a member will maximize their alumni experience.
Encourage both event attendance and membership engagement by offering discounted or free tickets to club members. Several clubs use an annual event like a holiday party as a membership drive by offering free tickets to members and high-priced tickets to non-members. When alumni see that for just a small amount more they could buy a membership in addition, many will choose that option as a better deal.
Especially for unpaid membership models, this is can be a key benefit. Consider establishing a members-only newsletter with special offers or announcements just for members. Special communication offerings can be a low or no-cost way to boost the benefits of membership that you offer alumni.
Leadership & Elections
Membership status is often a requirement for any alumnus/alumna to participate in club elections – both as a voter or a candidate. Think about how your membership model will fit in with your club’s bylaws and help ensure successful leadership transition. Will board members be required to show demonstrated commitment to the club through a membership purchase? Does purchasing or opting in to an unpaid membership give you a vote in each election, or is that responsibility reserved for board members? Segmenting your audience in this way requires strategic thought and transparency, but may be essential to the long-term success of your club.
Marketing & Management
As you establish these membership benefits, consider a marketing strategy. Whether your goal is to drive revenue or engagement, set clear goals and establish a plan to bring new members to your club. Likewise, once alumni begin to support the club through membership, consider how you will keep them coming back year after year!
Membership Benefits Outline
Use a webpage, infographic, or paper flyer to enumerate the benefits of purchasing a membership. Be transparent and show real value for all alumni to see
Offer a discount for alumni that purchase a long-term membership. For example, if a one-year membership costs $60, consider offering a two-year membership for $100.
Discounts for Students & Recent Alumni
These new members of your community may be unfamiliar with the Global Clubs Network and unsure about what value it might offer. Free or reduced-cost membership is a great way to invite them to learn more about the community. See other tips and resources for engaging this community.
Does your club often collaborate with a local Penn alumni club or affinity group? Joint membership can be a great way to expand your market. For example, members of the Wharton Healthcare Management Alumni Association may purchase a dual membership with the Wharton Club of New Jersey and enjoy benefits from each club.
Culture of Membership
If a membership model is truly important to your club’s strategy, make sure that you incorporate it in all that you do. Promote it through events, mention it in conversations and e-blasts, and continue finding new ways to improve it.
Reaching out to members who do not renew can be a great source of feedback for the club. Think about setting up an automated or personal renewal campaign to remind alumni of their lapsed membership, encourage them to consider renewing, and learn more about what value they would like to see.
One of the most impactful pieces of a membership model is how you say thank you to club members that support and engage with the club. Whether an alumnus/alumna is brand new to your membership base or consistently renews year after year, think about how you recognize them. Beyond the value you provide through programs and discounts, make sure they know the impact that their membership makes on the club and the broader alumni community. Our volunteer stewardship guide is a great place to start for ideas!